By Natasha Brown
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Police say two men went on a robbery spree throughout Center City, making the rounds in broad daylight in high traffic areas like 16th and Arch. One victim told Eyewitness News that the thieves had no regard for her life or her infant’s life when they targeted her.
“I was just thinking, ‘Just take the money, don’t hurt my child’…so I just gave him everything I had.”
Twenty-year-old Cristal Perez had no idea that a trip around Center City would turn into a life-threatening situation for her and her 2-month-old baby boy, Maurice.
It was just after 11 a.m. a few weeks ago that Cristal was strolling with her baby along 11th and Market Street when she was approached by two men claiming to be Africans who needed help.
“He said he needed help, and he said he was looking for an African Baptist church. I told him I didn’t know where it’s at, and I told him to just go ahead and leave me alone.”
But the pair never left her alone, instead following her down an alleyway, where they threatened her innocent child’s life if she didn’t give them wanted they wanted.
“The skinny guy grabbed me, and the big guy said, ‘Give me your money.’ I told him I didn’t have no money, and he took the baby and said, ‘I’ll hurt your baby.'”
The two suspects made off with cash and her debit card, which they later used at a nearby ATM.
And little did Cristal know, but she was not the only victim. Police say 61-year-old Jesse Sanford and 46-year-old Derrick Randle had duped at least five other victims in Center City during a robbery spree from January 3rd through January 22nd, playing on the victims’ kindness by pretending to need help, then robbing some at gunpoint and running off.
Police caught up with the two suspects last week, using surveillance video of both Sanford and Randle allegedly using stolen credit cards at Suburban Station.
And Perez is a little wiser now, vowing never to talk to strangers again–knowing her life and her baby’s life might depend on it.
“I was lucky to get out of that situation, because it could have went worse,” she says.